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The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) of Marco Island held a ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday to replace its hangar destroyed during Hurricane Irma.

Major Bob Corriveau, squadron project manager, said the new building will withstand up to 170 mph winds.

"The building will be exactly the same as before Irma," Corriveau said. "The only difference is that (it) has to conform with the new wind standards."

With the new hangar CAP will be able to keep its plane safe at the Marco Island Executive Airport during a Category 5 hurricane, according to Major Ken Bardon, command mission pilot. 

The construction, which is set to start in January, is made possible due to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The grant, however, will cover 75 percent of the project or $429,000 through reimbursements, according to CAP. 

The organization plans to raise money to cover the remaining 25 percent of the construction costs. 

CAP is a volunteer non-profit organization and a civilian auxiliary division of the U.S. Air Force, according to Bardon. Its primary mission is search and rescue both offshore and on land.

Since 1981, the Marco squadron has served Southwest Florida by providing coastal patrol surveillance and monitoring, search and rescue, and disaster assessment.

Marco squadron members have participated in photo reconnaissance and damage assessment missions during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, following hurricanes Matthew and Irma and provided an aircrew to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. 

From 2017: Huge community loss: Civil Air Patrol hangar destroyed during Irma

And: Knocked down, but not out: Marco's Civil Air Patrol returns to the skies

Hangar destroyed during Irma

The Marco Island airport fared well during Irma, the Eagle reported on Sept. 26, 2017. It was up and running two days after the storm, with just some water leakage inside the terminal building and two or three doors damaged in the south side hangars.

At the CAP hangar and headquarters, though, it was a different story. While the office portion of the building was left basically untouched, the attached 60 by 70-ft. hangar was smashed as if by a giant fist.

“It had to be a micro burst or a tornado, very very focused,” said Corriveau at the time. “It’s like a giant wind hand grabbed the hangar and pushed it back."

"The hangar is totally destroyed but you walk into the squadron room, and you wouldn’t know anything was different.”

For now, the side of the building where the hangar is supposed to be will continue to be covered with blue tarps, a reminder of Irma's destructive path through Southwest Florida.

People interested in donating can write a check payable to Marco Island Civil Air Patrol and send it to PO Box 225, Marco Island, FL 34146Additional reporting by Lance Shearer.

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